Do you feel as if you belong? Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 18 May 2009 06:43
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“When I was young I never felt like I belonged, I truly felt like a visitor . . . as if someone had dropped me off on the wrong planet . . . ‘Just visiting’ was a slogan I could easily have put on my grave stone.”

So says author Colleen-Joy Page who today, as a life couch, helps people to feel at home in their own lives. She writes that when we don’t heal our sense of belonging, we deprive ourselves of the capacity to grow.

The restless desire to belong is a deeply felt need produced in the evolution of our species. Some species live largely alone, while others have learned that you’ll survive better if you form a tribe. Homo sapiens is a tribal species and belonging is one of the more basic needs in Maslow’s hierarchy; it comes just above health and safety. How then, do we cure the spiritual ache of unbelonging? Colleen-Joy says that you don’t need permission to belong; you belong because you exist.

Poet Chris Mann says that, on an existence level, we belong first of all in the cosmos. “We are made from the dust of a vanished star. We belong in the biosphere of a tiny planet; at the tip of a life-line that stretches back billions of years from present time to a ridiculously improbable event, the first small twitch of life in a hot acidic sea . . .” And so, down from the cosmos to our planet to our species, Chris says that we are also “wombed in the culture and language of our upbringing”.

Then what about South African ‘scatterlings’ all over the world? Many of them have become ‘virtual’ South Africans thanks to Internet chat groups and newsletters such as The Boerewors Express. They seek each other out in Springbok Clubs all over the world where they order mieliepap, rooibos tea and Mrs Balls from ‘home’.

Strange how much ‘home’ has to do with food. It seems that the more we feel a sense of unbelonging in the country we’re staying in, the more nostalgia we feel about home cooking. Hence the growing popularity of traditional ‘kontreikos’? Or the weird loyalty about the-waymother- used-to-make-it?

See, there’s no getting away from it. On a very basic level we belong to our kin, even if those early family relationships formed the basis of our feeling of unbelonging. The fact is that we exist because they existed. Chris says that we belong most when we love. So, what if, because we are connected in such a deep way, that to be all we were born to be, we have to look at healing ‘us’ and not just self anymore?

Picture a pond, says Colleen-Joy. If you throw a pebble into the pond, the ripples touch the whole pond. When a pebble was thrown in the family pond, even three generations ago, everyone connected to the pond carries the imprint of the ripples in some way.

Bert Hellinger, the founder of Family Constellations, follows precisely this ripple-in-the-pond approach to healing. While much of psychology concentrates on exploring the conflicts in one’s childhood, Bert focuses on illuminating the hidden and often destructive loyalties within families. Bert’s work is based on children’s deep, unconscious love for their parents. Children love blindly and unconditionally. Out of this loyalty children also take on their parents’ misfortune.

This holds for all children. On the surface, the link from children to parents might seem to be disconnected; their relationship might even be hostile. But such children are still serving their family, unconsciously carrying out miseries that have been passed on through the generations. If we become conscious of this, we can heal the ripples of pain in our family pond from the inside of our own hearts. Whatever happens out of love and is being maintained by it can only be dissolved in love.

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